John Wesley's Chapel
The New Room
36 The Horsefair
"Note: The Horsefair is being re-developed during 2016-2017. During construction there will be no access to the New Room via the Horsefair Courtyard and there will be no public toilet facilities available. The side alley which runs alongside the New Room connecting the two courtyards will also be closed.
However, the New Room chapel will be open throughout the build. Access to the chapel and museum will be through the Broadmead Courtyard although, as construction progresses, there will be days when access may be restricted. In Autumn 2016, the museum will close in order to allow the design team to transform this space into the expanded museum which will reopen in Spring 2017".
The ‘New Room’, built in 1739 by John Wesley, was the first Methodist meeting place to be built in the world. It remains the oldest surviving Methodist Chapel and the interior has not changed since Wesley preached there in the 18th century. John and his brother Charles lived in the rooms above the chapel when not traveling all over the country on horseback, and these rooms are also open to the public.
The building is sometimes referred to as ‘the birthplace of Methodism’ which is not strictly correct but it certainly is a significant building in the history of the Non-conformist Church. In the 17th century Britain was a hotbed of religious dissent and a number of independent societies grew up catering to a populace and some clergy who had been barred from the Anglican Church because of their non-conformist views. Among these societies were the Quakers and the Baptists.
By the 18th century the thriving city of Bristol was full of poor and disadvantaged people who either lived out of reach of an Anglican Church or had been excluded from the Church.
Wesley preached to the Poor
John Wesley was originally a Church of England ordained priest who came to Bristol in 1739 and preached to the poor in open air gatherings. The Wesley brothers not only brought the gospel to the masses but also combined their teachings with practical help for the disadvantaged.
They were responsible for introducing prison visits, schools for poor children, dispensaries for treating the sick, missions for seamen and many other social reforms. Their sermons drew thousands of people. Instead of holding meetings in fields and on commons, John Wesley decided to build the New Room on a block of land at Horsefair as a permanent meeting place for society members.
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In 1748, the building was extended and rebuilt giving us the present Chapel. Of interest in this Chapel is the two tiered pulpit and balcony. Outside is a statue of John Wesley on horseback. There is also a statue of his brother Charles Wesley.
This historic building also has a museum and gift shop, and an extensive book collection in the New Room.
Entry is free
Open: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 16:00 hours
Be guided by the blue coloured ‘BLC’ signs & maps
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1179 264 740
Google Map - John Wesley's New Room